Nerdoween is the perfect time to highlight some of our fave filmmakers! Today, it’s Timo Tjahjanto’s turn. The Indonesian filmmaker has been terrorizing us since we first saw The Mo Brothers’ Macabre. His signature blend of gore, incredibly choreographed action, and inventive horror are why we love him. Over the last decade plus, Tjahjanto has established himself as one of the most exciting genre filmmakers working today. So as everyone is looking for some truly great horror to explore right now, we’re presenting our favorite Tjahjanto flicks for your perusing pleasure. Strap in for a wild ride through his catalog.
Directed with Kimo Stamboel under the moniker The Mo Brothers, Macabre is a true cult classic. This is the kind of film talked about in hushed whispers by teenage horror fans. And for very good reason. Macabre feels most akin to movies from the French New Extremity movement like Inside and Martyrs. That’s thanks to The Mo Brothers’ passion for the gruesome and grotesque. A group of friends embark on a trip together but are waylaid when they help a mysterious woman on the side of the road. As any horror fan knows, that never goes well. Soon the group is at the mercy of her mother Darah (played by the unbelievably scary Shareefa Daanish) and have to survive a dinner party from hell. Pure midnight movie madness. The kind of film that becomes high school playground legend and nightmare fuel.
You can watch Macabre on Shudder now.
V/H/S/2 – Safe Haven (2013)
This is the short that put Timo Tjahjanto on the American horror map. Co-directed with The Raid’s Gareth Huw Evans, this is one of the best V/H/S entries ever. The found-footage nightmare focuses on a documentary crew in Indonesia. Managing to infiltrate a notorious cult named Paradise Gates, the team is ready to expose the strange interior organization. But once they head into the compound they realize they’re just pawns in the cult’s plan. Safe Haven showcases the brilliant mix of action and horror that Tjahjanto is known for. Gory, atmospheric, and at times utterly terrifying, this is one of our all-time favorite horror shorts.
You can watch V/H/S 2 free (with a library card) on Hoopla now.
Another eerily engrossing gem from The Mo Brothers, Killers is an adrenaline rush of an action-horror flick. In Japan, a serial killer Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) posts his grisly murders online. Over 5000km away in Jakarta, a journalist Baya (Oka Antara) discovers those videos, then in a moment of extreme violence also learns he can kill. Soon Baya begins to shape himself into a vigilante killer, uploading his murders online just like Nomura. But when the two connect online, beginning a murderous rivalry, it sets them on a brutal collision course. Antara and Kitamura are the beating, bloody hearts of this cat and mouse thriller. But the slickly directed action and brutal twists and turns will keep you hooked to the very last minute.
You can watch Killers free on Tubi.
If you’re a fan of The Raid (who isn’t?!) then The Mo Brothers’ Headshot should be at the top of your watch list. Iko Uwais stars as an amnesiac with a dark past who can’t remember who he is. His only ally is the doctor who is helping him back from the brink. When she’s attacked by shady figures from his past, he must fight to save her. Dynamic action and an emotional heart make this one stand out. Tjahjanto utilizes his skill for putting violence to screen to make an action flick that feels like no other. Uwais once again makes a case for being the most exciting living martial artist. Plus it makes the perfect double feature with our next pick.
You can watch Headshot on Netflix.
The Night Comes for Us (2018)
This is the movie that made this writer a true Timo Tjahjanto obsessive. The Night Comes for Us is one of the best martial arts movies ever made. It also happens to be the goriest. Smashing together extreme violence and bloodshed with the incredible martial arts talents of Joe Taslim and Iku Uwais, this is a completely unique watch. Taslim stars as Ito, an enforcer for the Six Seas Triad who saves a girl during a fatal raid. It’s a choice that turns his life upside down as he has to face down against his former Six Seas colleagues and an ex-friend in Uwais’ Arian. It’s a showdown for the ages, and for those of us who miss the splatter action of movies like Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, it’s a must watch.
You can watch The Night Comes for Us on Netflix.
May the Devil Take You (2018)
Probably the most fun you’ll have this Halloween, May the Devil Take You is a love letter to Sam Raimi and that’s a good thing. Alfie hasn’t seen her father for years, but when he dies she visits his hometown with her step-family. It’s not a pleasant homecoming as his abandoned villa is steeped with supernatural nastiness. Soon Alfie is swept up in a devilish fight for survival as her father’s connections to the occult come back to bite his heirs.
Very much a descendant of The Evil Dead, this is a super fun supernatural horror with a badass heroine that you’ll love to root for. Plus it has a ton of legitimately great scares. Don’t watch this one alone; it’s the perfect Halloween movie watch with as many buds as possible! The equally great sequel May the Devil Take You Too is currently streaming on Shudder!
You can watch May the Devil Take You on Netflix.
V/H/S/94 – “The Subject” (2021)
Timo Tjahjanto returned to the V/H/S franchise with this terrifying short that lavishes in the gnarly kind of practical effects we rarely see anymore, creating true gory greatness. Set in the lab of a deranged yet gifted scientist, Budi Ross brings an unhinged passion to James, the master of ceremonies. He believes that the true fusion between man and machine is possible. Think Tetsuo: Iron Man but on stimulants.
His many experiments are brutal and grotesquely inventive. Things only get worse for his victims when their would-be rescuers arrive. This bloodbath escalates through its 30 minute run time, never missing a beat. If you long for the heydays of practical horror then you’ll lap up every blood-soaked second.
You can watch V/H/S/94 on Shudder.
Featured Image: Shudder